Libya Completes Destruction of Qaddafi's Chemical Arsenal
Libya has completely destroyed the chemical arsenal it inherited from ousted leader of Muammar Qaddafi, the country’s Foreign Minister announced on Tuesday, according to the AFP news agency.
"Libya has become totally free of usable chemical weapons that might present a potential threat to the security of local communities, the environment and neighboring areas," Foreign Minister Mohammad Abdelaziz said, according to the report.
"This achievement would not have been possible in such a short time, without concerted efforts within an international partnership, or without the logistical support and the technical assistance from Canada, Germany and the U.S., which provided the opportunity to use very advanced, safe and reliable technology," he added.
Abdelaziz was speaking at a ceremony to mark the milestone that was attended by Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) chief Ahmet Uzumcu.
During the civil war in Libya which resulted in Qaddafi’s ouster and death, it was confirmed that Qaddafi had ten tons of mustard gas stockpiled, and it was feared he might use it on opposition forces seeking to bring an end to his regime. Iran had supplied Qaddafi with hundreds of special artillery shells for chemical weapons that Libya kept secret for decades.
In October of 2011 the Libyan government confirmed the presence of chemical weapons in Libya and said foreign inspectors would deal with the issue.
In addition to the chemical weapons, Qaddafi also reportedly had a massive weapons arsenal that included thousands of surface-to-air missiles and thousands of barrels of uranium yellowcake.
Recent reports indicated that the arsenal remains in an abandoned desert warehouse in southern Libya and that Al-Qaeda terrorists were trying to get their hands on it.
During Tuesday’s ceremony, reported AFP, Uzumcu hailed international support for the Libyan disarmament operation, which he said was now being mirrored in Syria.
It provided a "good example of international cooperation now emulated in Syria on a larger scale," the OPCW chief said, according to AFP.
The Syrian disarmament operation, agreed to by Damascus last year under threat of Western military action, is running seriously behind schedule, sparking mounting concern in Washington.
Syria has declared around 700 tons of most-dangerous chemicals, which were supposed to have been shipped out by December 31. Another 500 tons of less-dangerous precursor chemicals were supposed to have been shipped out by Wednesday.
But so far just two small shipments have left the Syrian port of Latakia, accounting for less than four percent of the country's declared arsenal of most dangerous chemicals.